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Quick hits: Notes, analysis on Raiders offense in week 13 win over Bills

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Quick thoughts and insights on the offensive performance of the week 13 victory over Buffalo

After a re-watch of the game, here are a few quick thoughts on what the Offense did on Sunday.

Slow Start

  • Felt like a slow start, but the offense was moving the ball in the first half. Settled for Field Goals instead of TDs and made some mistakes.
  • The bad plays overshadowed the good ones and made the first half difficult
  • Buffalo's ball possession attack kept the offense on the sidelines for long stretches

Don't Panic

  • This offense has so much confidence
  • Was executing very well in the first quarter, but had little mistakes that hurt. Good execution but not quite finishing.
  • Lots of "meat left on the bone" in the first half.
  • Most of the season, the offense would go dormant in the 3rd quarter.
    • This week, it looked similar as they went 3-and-out with their opening possession in the 2nd half.
    • On their next possession, the comeback began.
    • Went on the 29-0 run to finish off the game and made it look easy
  • Not long ago, the gameplan for opposing teams was to just keep the game close and the Raiders would just implode and give the game away. Now it is the reverse. If the game is close in the 4th, this offense knows they will score.

Derek Carr

  • His cadence is such a weapon now
    • Most obviously, it draws some free 5 yard penalties
    • But it also gets Blitzers to declare early and for defenses to reveal their coverage rotations
  • The game is really slowing down another notch for him
  • He's really understanding the playbook and the concepts
  • Seems like Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave is trusting Derek more and more.
  • The TD throw to Amari was against Zero blitz and Derek made it look easy
    • Compare to 2015 Denver game when Derek threw the Pick 6 to Chris Harris on a zero blitz
  • Buffalo brought a variety of blitzes and Derek was unphased.
  • Another 0-sack day for Derek Carr. In particular, Lorenzo Alexander was kept (mostly) away from Carr
  • Derek's accuracy is now measured in inches not feet!
    • It's disappointing if the ball is not perfectly delivered, especially on fades
    • Compare to 2015 when Derek was underthrowing both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree often
    • When the ball is thrown behind or away from the receiver, it's generally because of defensive presence; he's throwing away from a defender or taking the receiver away from a big hit
    • Speaking of which, when is the last time Derek Carr threw a receiver into a big hit from a playside defender?
  • The Keeper play
    • I hate seeing Derek keep the ball and take a hit
    • But I think it was important that this offense show that he will keep it.
    • Defenses may not have been respecting the QB keep on the Zone-Read play
    • Similarly, defenses recently do not seem to be respecting the Amari Jet sweep motion. At some point, Musgrave will have to call the give to Amari.

Injuries are opportunities

  • Lee Smith going down was terrible for the offense, but Long Term may have been a blessing in disguise.
  • It allowed Mychal Rivera, Clive Walford, Vadal Alexander, and Denver Kirkland to get more playing time and for Musgrave to try out some new things to account for now Lee Smith.
  • Mychal Rivera played like he wants to come back to the Raiders next season (this is the final year of his contract).

  • Clive Walford is playing better and more reliably in the passing game
  • Mychal and Clive are starting to open up opportunities in the middle of the field and may be setting up some mismatches in the final 4 games (+ the playoffs)
  • Menelik Watson had 1 play, a pass play
  • Vadal Alexander had 13 plays, 11 run plays, 2 pass plays
  • I would not make too much of this. Mike Tice has shown that he wants to get reps for the backup OL and these snaps are helping develop Vadal Alexander if/when he's needed. Menelik is already primed to go.

Receivers

  • Michael Crabtree had a heartbreaking drop early.
    • He mistracked the ball, perhaps because the timing was off a bit or because the ball gets on top of him faster than expected. Crabtree jumps when he doesn't need to and it results in a Heyward-Bey-like drop.
  • Seth Roberts almost had a TD on a perfect play, but Corey Graham makes a great play to jar the ball loose.
  • Seth's 2-point conversion was a great play, but in a previous drive, Musgrave called the same play and it was unsuccessful. This points out that plays are not great or terrible in isolation, but it's the match-up of play v defense that makes it look so. Also, Musgrave changed the formation and motion to help clear out the area for Seth.

  • Crabtree drew a frustration taunting penalty on the overthrow in the endzone.
  • In the 4th quarter when Crabtree scored his TD, he did his Kenny Powers celebration. Fortunately, the refs were not complete idiots; if they had thrown a taunting penalty on him again, he would have been ejected.
  • Amari Cooper finished with 59 yards receiving. Drew a 23 yard pass interference penalty and had a 51 yard reception called back on Austin Howard's illegal formation penalty. (Also one terrible drop)
  • Amari's feet are just incredible. This is his Slant-and-Go for the TD.

Rushing

  • Used the Pistol formation to give running attack some variation
  • Last time, the Raiders' running attack was smothered until Marcel Dareus left the game with an injury.
  • This year, even with Dareus in the game, Latavius Murray and Jalen Richard combined for
    • 29 rush, 135 yards, 3.5 avg, 2 TDs
    • Not great ypa avg, but good enough to keep the offense balanced
    • Each of Latavius and Jalen had a 20+ yard rush.
  • Before the season started, I thought Jamize Olawale would end up as the short yardage and goalline back. But Latavius Murray has taken that job and held onto it.
  • He's not Zack Crockett, but 11 rushing TDs in 12 games is excellent.
  • Latavius Murray has been running much harder this year and lowering his shoulder to pound out tough yards. Did that again against Buffalo
  • Doing footwork drills with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard may be paying dividends for Latavius. His lateral quickness and suddenness is substantially improved.

  • This may also owe to being fresh
  • Only had 1 chance to mismatch LB against RB split out in WR position. May have had a nice TD to Murray except Buffalo called the timeout just in time.

Complementary Football

  • Offense gets due credit for scoring points
  • But defense and special teams facilitated the scoring and made the job much easier
  • Interesting series of events in the 4th quarter
    • Defense holds Buffalo to 3-and-out
    • Buffalo punts and Jalen Richard returns the ball to the 50 yard line
    • The punt return is negated by Daren Bates' holding penalty, putting the ball at the Oakland 15
    • 5 plays later at the Oakland 41 yard line, Marquette King punts and Taiwan Jones bats the ball to be downed at the Buffalo 4 yard line
    • On Buffalo's first offensive play, Khalil Mack tips the ball and Nate Allen intercepts it at the Buffalo 16 yard line
    • 4 plays later, Touchdooooown Raaaaaaaiders!
  • Final 3 TD's (22 points) all came from Plus field position, a result of defense and special teams play
    • From BUF 38 : 5 plays, 38 yards TD
    • From OAK 41 : 5 plays, 59 yards TD
    • From BUF 16 : 4 plays, 16 yards TD